Escudero hits DPWH’s P255 billion flood control budget

Marc Jayson Cayabyab - The Philippine Star
Escudero hits DPWH�s P255 billion flood control budget
Passengers and motorists brave the heavy flood along Taft Avenue, Manila after a heavy rain on August 17, 2023.
STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines — Sen. Francis Escudero yesterday scrutinized the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)’s P255-billion flood control allocation in the proposed P5.768-trillion budget next year.

Escudero described the budget as “too big,” far exceeding the allocation for irrigation and for the construction of new hospitals.

“(The budget) looms large by any yardstick. It is too big for tubig (water),” Escudero said.

He said the DPWH’s flood control system budget is far bigger than the capital outlay budget of the Department of Agriculture at P40.13 billion and of the Department of Health at P24.57 billion.

“Flood control even beat our railway budget by over a P100 billion. Railway budget is only P153 billion and irrigation at P31 billion,” Escudero said.

“It seems like irrigation is like a minor creek compared to flood control which is a mighty river,” he added.

The senator said DPWH’s P255-billion flood control budget even eclipsed proposed budgets of entire departments – P232.2 billion for the Department of National Defense, P209.9 billion for the Department of Social Welfare and Development, P181.4 billion for the Department of Agriculture and its attached agencies, among others.

The DPWH has a proposed 2024 budget of P822.2 billion.

“If we are spending more for draining water and dredging rivers than for planting food, then what is the justification for this?” Escudero asked.

Senators trained their eyes on the DPWH’s flood control projects after Typhoon Egay inundated Central and Northern Luzon, prompting a Senate probe into the failure of the government’s flood control master plans despite billions in funding.

Senate majority leader Joel Villanueva had said that the DPWH has a “daily budget for flood management” of P1.079 billion in 2023.

According to Villanueva, the DPWH has a total P280.6-billion budget for flood management alone this year – P183-billion flood control fund in the national budget, P94.89 billion for “flood mitigation structures protecting public infrastructure or facilities” and P2.8 billion in foreign-assisted projects.

“I don’t think any one of the 200,000 families submerged in waters would say they benefited from the P1.079-billion budget. Are we really implementing this? P1.079 billion every single day? What the heck is going on?” Villanueva said during the Aug. 9 Senate probe.

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